NAIROBI, 22 October 1996 - Mr. K. Madhava Sarma, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, based at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, has been chosen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to receive one of the 1996 Ozone Protection Awards.

"UNEP has been a leading force in ozone protection since its birth in 1972," said Mr Sarma. "This award is a great personal honour and also a recognition of the good work of the professionals and general service staff of the Ozone Secretariat. But, it is more for UNEP than for me and I dedicate it to the organization."

UNEP, home to the Ozone Secretariat, catalysed the international response to the protect the stratospheric ozone layer; the fragile shield of gas, 20-40 km above us, which protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, (namely, excess solar UV-B radiation). Weakening of this protective shield could lead to increased rates of skin cancer and eye cataracts, to stunted agricultural production, and to the possible disappearance of phytoplankton - organisms which form the base of the marine food chain.

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (adopted in 1985) focussed on cooperative research, information exchange, and global commitment to protect the ozone layer that is being damaged by the man-made chemicals known as Ozone Depleting Substances or ODS.

These commitments were translated into action through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987; and amended in 1990 and 1992. The Montreal Protocol has now been ratified by 157 countries, including about 110 developing countries. It has resulted in the complete phase-out of halons in 1994, chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), methyl chloroform, and carbon tetra-chloride by end of 1995, and a freeze on methyl bromide at 1991 production levels by 1995 in developed countries. Developing countries are given a grace period for the phase-out.

The Montreal Protocol is a dynamic instrument and can be strengthened by parties if new scientific, technical and economic assessments indicate that a faster phase-out schedule is needed. In 1991 an Multilateral Fund was established, to assist developing countries phase-out ODS. To date about $US 500 million has been disbursed. UNEP acts as the treasurer. In support of the Protocol, the OzonAction Programme of UNEP provides valuable support services - information, training, guidelines, planning and more - to developing countries, specifically to their National Ozone Units. The eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will take place in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 18-29 November, 1996.

Mr Sarma worked for the Government of India for 30 years in various capacities as a member of the Indian Administrative Service. A graduate in Mathematics and Statistics, he has experience in high positions in water supply, irrigation, power and environment, and, before joining UNEP in 1991, served for 5 years in the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The leader of Indian delegations to many international meetings on global environmental issues, Mr Sarma was one of the co-sponsors of the provisions of many amendments relating to developing countries, including Technology Transfer and the Financial Mechanism. Since 1991, he has been the Co-ordinator of the Secretariat for the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol.

The award will presented at a dinner on 22 October 1996 at the Washington Hilton Hotel, during The International Conference on Ozone Protection Technologies, Washington, 21-23, October 1996.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. K. Madhava Sarma
Executive Secretary, Ozone Secretariat, Nairobi
Tel: 254-2-62-3851, Fax: 62 6886
E-Mail: Madhava.Sarma@unep.org

Mr. Robert Bisset
Media/Information Officer, IPA, UNEP, Nairobi
Tel: 254-2-62-3084, Fax: 62-3692
E-mail: robert.bisset@unep.org

UNEP News Release 1996/55


Robert G. Bisset
Media/Information Officer
Information and Public Affairs
United Nations Environment Programme
PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254-2-623084
Fax: +254-2-623692
Email: Robert.Bisset@unep.org

BACK TO *********************************************************************